While the Navy’s hardware may be second to none, there are those who believe the service gives short shrift to the intellectual side of warfighting. The Navy has peerless professional military education institutions in the Naval War College and the Naval Postgraduate School but are they used to their full advantage?
Lieutenant Ryan Hilger, a submariner and current student at the Naval Postgraduate School, pinpoints persistent problems in Navy education and training and offers several solutions. Urging the expansion of joint participation to include global partners, he identifies existing Navy institutions in which his proposed comprehensive reforms could take place in a way that builds on current practices rather than starting from scratch. Just as the Air Force has its Squadron Officer School and the Army its Captain’s Career Course, where mid-grade officers from various communities prepare for the next professional level, the Navy also needs a common school where department heads can progress beyond mission-essential skills.
Others worry that the Navy, living in a high-tech world that primarily focuses on the future, has lost sight of the past and the value it holds as a guide to doctrine, policy, and operations. And that’s to say nothing of its role in sustaining the service’s proud heritage, says onetime naval aviator and historian Gregory Martin. He lays out a case for restoring history to what he believes is its rightful place: a core element of professional military education specifically, and more generally, deeply embedded in the entire ethos of the Navy.
Our maritime history really comes alive in the numerous museum ships around the country. For millions of Americans, those vessels are their salient contact with naval heritage, and the active-duty Navy could vastly benefit by more actively tapping into that connection to the public, notes retired Navy Reserve Commander David F. Winkler, director of programs at the Naval Historical Foundation. Once a ship is decommissioned, she still has an afterlife as a valuable public-relations tool—and can be a great avenue of communication between the current force and the citizenry it serves.
Paul Merzlak, Editor-in-Chief